Rugby: Canterbury underwhelm, still win and score 50

By Niall Anderson

Canterbury 52 Northland 34
Canterbury's Johnny McNicholl looks to fend against Northland. Photo / Photosport
Canterbury's Johnny McNicholl looks to fend against Northland. Photo / Photosport

There are few teams who can score 50 points and have a right to be disappointed, but Canterbury fit the bill.

A 52-34 victory over Northland provided their seemingly customary five points but conceding their biggest points haul since 2014 will have concerned coach Scott Robertson.

It hardly matters on the points table, which has Canterbury with a perfect 15 points through three clashes to top the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership.

Having swept aside Premiership semifinal contenders in Auckland and Tasman, their clash in Whangarei was always tipped to be lop-sided, despite Northland's improvement after their horror winless season in 2015.

Northland have notched bonus points in close losing efforts against Otago and Manawatu, and put in a solid showing against Auckland. Yet, their meeting with Canterbury was their third game in eight days, leading the bookmakers to install Canterbury as 30 point favourites.

Canterbury's riches were shown in their pre-match rotation. While young talents Jordie Barrett and Richie Mo'unga came off the bench, they managed to use services of Luke Romano, Ryan Crotty and Codie Taylor to create potency at every position.

A romp looked on the cards as Canterbury scored three times in the first seven minutes, with Northland's only touch of the ball being to kick-off into the hands of the Canterbury onslaught.

Running at the line at speed and stretching Northland's defence, Canterbury racked up 233 metres before Northland gained 10, finding overlaps in the corners with simple set moves as their wingers dotted down.

However, Northland hung tough as the game slowed down and the deficit reached single digits, with lock Josh Goodhue showing a mix of power and anticipation to score a remarkable hat-trick.

Canterbury were still crossing at regular intervals in the contest which scored 12 tries scored, meaning Northland never really threatened an upset for the ages.

But, they snared another bonus point and displayed great promise to snap their 16-game losing streak this season.

Canterbury 52 (Marshall Suckling 2, George Bridge 2, Johnny McNicholl, Jack Goodhue, Matt Todd, Jordie Barrett tries; Ben Volavola 2 cons, Richie Mo'unga con, pen, Barrett pen)
Northland 34 (Josh Goodhue 3, Howard Sililoto tries; Dan Hawkins 4 cons, 2 pens)
Halftime: 32-13

- NZ Herald

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